ACLU Urges Members of the Judiciary Committee Not to Let the Bells Off-The-Hook

November 14, 2007 12:00 am

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XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 />Washington, DC — The American Civil Liberties Union urges Senate Judiciary Committee members to oppose substitution language floated by some Members of the Committee that would grant telecommunications companies immunity for their illegal activities over the past six years. The substitution amendment would instead make the government responsible for illegal activity committed by the companies involved in the NSA warrantless wiretapping program, but could effectively extinguish the lawsuits entirely due to legal barriers the government could raise if it were substituted as the sole defendant.

Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington Legislative Office of the ACLU said, “Congress must reject any attempts to provide immunity to those that broke the law. If the government assumes legal responsibility for lawbreaking for the telecoms, the companies will be let off-the-hook for their illegal actions. It also means the taxpayers will be responsible for any damages. The ACLU strongly and firmly opposes the substitution. This is, in essence, telecom immunity.”

Timothy Sparapani, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel said “If this substitution language gets enacted, we know that the government will work to stop the lawsuits by arguing: state secrets, executive privilege, and sovereign immunity in order to stop the people from having their day in court against the telecom giants.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to mark up the domestic surveillance legislation tomorrow morning.

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